So you caught a bug to go places, see and do things but are anxious of how and where to begin? The thought of the gigantic mountain of things to do before starting the actual travel is enough to make a beginner feel jittery.
I won’t lie and tell you that I spent a lot of time reading stuff and learning how to plan for a successful trip. I do spend a lot of time reading now, but I had my own personal planner when I started travelling. The perks of a travel junkie spouse.
After having travelled a fair bit, I started participating in the planning, have my say and take control of the itenary.
The entire process booking tickets, researching the place and the overall planning gives me immense satisfaction and makes me giddy with anticipation of turning the plans into reality. I do the research and draw out the draft, which the both (my husband and I) of us sit and finalise.
While you plan, it is important (and fairly obvious) to take into consideration your budget, interests and priorities. Here are some things that we always take into account while planning our trips.
Book as early as you can and go for the non-refundable ones if your dates are final. Saves a lot of money. Go for the no-frills airlines, like Tiger Air, that offer some of the cheapest tickets.
Again non-refundable deals are the best. Hostels and shared accommodations work best for people who don’t mind strangers and the space constraints.
Location of your accommodation is important. Consider priorities of your group and think of a location that agrees with most (if not all) interests.
We are just back from Singapore and we stayed in little India to accommodate our parents’ strictly vegetarian palate. Hunting for a veggie restaurant everyday had the potential to spoil our day. So think about things that would turn the experience sour and accommodate for those needs.
Make generous use of Google maps and find out the distances between your places of interest when deciding the mode of transport.
If you plan on using public transport, check their website and keep yourself informed about buying tickets or travel cards.
If you plan to use taxi, Google and read about others’ experiences with taxis at the places your are visiting.
I highly suggest to get a prepaid local number and data activated on it to use for maps.
Plan each day out and list out the activities. Best to write everything of importance you found while reading about the place and print it out to carry it with you.
Note down all places you want to visit and prioritise. Start the daily itenary with the high priority ones(obviously). Note down their opening and closing times, duration(approx) of the visit, tickets and options for commute.
Read a lot of reviews to get an idea about the experience.
Take into account lunch and other breaks you might need if you travel with elders and/or children.
That said, I highly recommend leaving a little room for spontaneity and surprises, if you can. This gives you an opportunity to explore the place and learn new things.
For eg., ask a local what they suggest for an evening experience or a little known place that you can visit.
Like every traveller worth his/her salt, I too recommend travelling light. Pack only the essentials.
Tip: If you are on a long trip, especially if you have to carry you luggage around, then instead of packing clothes for each day you can choose to re-use them as much as possible and make sure you have laundry facilities at the place of your accommodation.
Note: I will soon be uploading a free packing checklist to print. So you can save yourself the hassle of making a list and download it instead.
6.Cultural sensitivity & law
Each country is different, sometimes each state is different when it comes to law. Read about the strict rules and regulations of the place your are visiting and make a mental note of your habits that might violate the law.
For example, in Singapore littering is an offence and attracts heavy penalties. If you are from a country where littering isn’t that big of a deal, you would need to remember to keep the banana peel with you until you find the bin.
Also remember to read a bit about the culture and what might cause offence to the local population of the place you are travelling to. You would be surprised how what you think are small things might end up offending others. You always want to be a polite and thankful traveller.
Not all places are safe, even in the city you live. It would do you good to be on your guard and read all you can about safety with respect to the places you want to visit and your time of visit. Make sure to have a working mobile phone that you can use during emergencies. If you read a lot of reviews that a place might not be safe, it is better to skip it. If you are on a long stay at a particular location, make local friends or hire travel guides who can accompany you to such places.
Hope you found these tips helpful to plan your next trip efficiently. I wish you an enjoyable trip.
Do you have more tips for the amateur traveller? Leave a comment below.